Monday, October 10, 2016

Science and magic

Fantasy novels are shelved with Science Fiction at Peter White Public Library.  Some question this practice; they see stories rooted in magic and myth as very different from stories based on scientific possibilities.  Yet, the line between science and magic has not always been so distinct, as is evident in the Library’s current display on loan from the U.S. National Library of Medicine: Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine.
The following titles from the New Science Fiction collection all contain elements of magic.
Imaro is a heroic fantasy novel based on African traditions and legends. The setting author Charles Saunders created is Nyumbani (which means home in Swahili), an amalgam of the real, the semi-real, and the unreal.  Imaro is the name of the larger-than-life warrior who is the hero of the story, an outcast who travels across Nyumbani, searching for home.
In V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic (2015), London is the link between parallel universes, and magician Kell is one of two Travelers who can move between them. Something sinister is disturbing their equilibrium, and Kell must try to unravel the plot with only feisty street thief Delilah Bard as an ally. A second book in the Shades of Magic series came out this year; A Gathering of Shadows picks up the story four months after the events of the first novel are resolved.
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders tells the story of childhood friends Patricia and Laurence, one who has developed magical powers and the other who has invented a time machine. They reunite as adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco as the planet starts falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Together they form a magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.
Michael Moorcock creates a magical world known as Alsation in his new novel The Whispering Swarm.  Back in the Thirteenth Century, King Henry III granted a plot of land in the heart of London to an order of Friars. This sanctuary became a refuge for many of ill-repute, as the Friars cast no judgment and took in all who were in search of solace. Known as Alsatia, it did not suffer like the rest of the world. No Plague affected it. No Great Fire burned it. No Blitz destroyed it. Within its walls lies a secret to existence--one that has been kept since the dawn of time--a bevy of creation, where reality and romance, life and death and imagination share the same world. One young man's entrance into this realm sends a shockwave of chaos through time and the center of this sacred place is threatened for the first time.
In Zen Cho’s sparkling debut, Sorcerer to the Crown, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite. The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty's lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman--a freed slave who doesn't even have a familiar--as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England's once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At his wit's end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England's magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain--and the world at large.
Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen is a dark fantasy of destiny, death, and the supernatural world that is hidden beneath the surface. Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She's a half-breed who dresses like a boy and is raised by folks who use her like a slave. She knows of nothing else. That is until the day an encounter with a violent stranger leads Nettie to a clearer vision of how things stand.  Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin... if the monsters along the way don't kill her first.
--Ellen Moore, Website Developer

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